Open Access Open Badges Research article

Diarrhea, CD4 counts and enteric infections in a hospital – based cohort of HIV-infected patients around Varanasi, India

Suresh VS Attili1*, AK Gulati2, VP Singh1, DV Varma3, M Rai1 and Shyam Sundar1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medicine Institute of Medical Sciences, BHU, Varanasi-221005, India

2 Microbiology Institute of Medical Sciences, BHU, Varanasi-221005, India

3 Dermatology and STD clinic Institute of Medical Sciences, BHU, Varanasi-221005, India

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2006, 6:39  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-6-39

Published: 1 March 2006



As most of the studies in HIV patients with diarrhea were cross sectional, focusing on the etiological agents, we are reporting data on the rate of diarrhea, associations between diarrhea and CD4 counts and variation in frequency of identifying a pathogen with consistency of diarrhea and duration in a prospective hospital based study.


Stool specimens were obtained between Jan 2001 and April 2003 from HIV infected adults with diarrhea presenting to Infectious Disease clinic, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi. In all patients with diarrhea, specimens were examined by microscopy and cultures to identify pathogens.


During the study, 630 person years of observations with diarrhea were analyzed. 140 stool samples were collected representing 43% of episodes of reported diarrhea. Positivity of finding a pathogen from watery stools and formed stools were 40%&24% respectively (p < 0.01) probably due to associated inflammation is more in watery diarrhea. Patients having chronic diarrhea are 2.25 (95%CI 1.52–2.81) times at more risk of developing other opportunistic infections compared to those who don't have. However this is not true with the acute diarrhea where risk of harboring the opportunistic infections remain same.


Diarrhea was most strongly associated with low CD4 counts. Over two-thirds of diarrheal episodes were undiagnosed, suggesting that unidentified agents or primary HIV enteropathy are important causes of diarrhea in this population. There is a strong negative association between duration of diarrhea and CD4 levels